In 2018, the United States spent $194.2 billion on medical and health research, $43 billion (22.2 percent) of which came from federal agencies, according to a report by Research America.
Representatives in the House and Senate are responsible for deciding how much of the United States’ annual budget can go towards funding medical research.
Contact your representative
One of the most powerful ways patients, caregivers, and anyone impacted by kidney cancer can advocate for their communities is by speaking with their elected representatives. Personal stories are the critical link in showing how breakthroughs in cancer care and treatment as a result of continued, robust funding can change lives – and even save lives.
The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health is one example of an institution that depends largely on federal funding for its basic and clinical research activities.
A lesser-known program is the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) within the Department of Defense, which funds conditions that impact United States Service members, their dependents, veterans, and the American public at the recommendation of Congress.
Funding kidney cancer research
Kidney cancer is one of a few diseases to have a dedicated research program within the CDMRP – the Kidney Cancer Research Program (KCRP). It began in 2017 as a $10 million grant program funding high-risk, high-reward projects. Since then, the KCRP has awarded about $45 million to fund innovative kidney cancer research.
Last October, I visited Capitol Hill on behalf of the Kidney Cancer Association to advocate for increased funding for cancer research – specifically the CDMRP – along with a group of patients, survivors, families, and medical professionals.
As someone who works in health care advocacy for my day job, I regularly advise people on how to tell their story to lawmakers. But to go in as a stage 1 kidney cancer survivor and tell my own personal story reminded me of the power that personal storytelling can have in helping shape public policy.
Patients and caregivers can be advocates in many places, including at home, in a hospital or doctor’s office, at school, or at work. But it’s especially important to let our elected representatives know how we’re affected by the decisions they make, and to speak up so they know how to support our futures by funding medical research.